Accuser's Mother Key To Verdict

Jurors and courtroom observers alike agree that the mother of the accuser in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial turned out to be critical to winning his acquittal, reports The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman.

Though she testified for the prosecution, her court appearance seemed to seal the case for the defense, Kauffman says.

Juror No. 10 asked after the verdicts were delivered, "What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen…just freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone?"

More than one juror said they were offended by her demeanor on the stand.

"I disliked intensely when she snapped her fingers at us," said juror No. 5. "I said, 'Don't snap your fingers at us, lady.' "

Said juror No. 4: "She didn't take her eyes off of us, so that was an uncomfortable feeling."

A police video obtained by investigative reporter Art Harris shows the mother saying, "God handpicked me and the kids because he knew we weren't going to fall for any of their money, that it was going to be justice more than anything."

But, Kauffman points out, the woman had so may credibility problems that, in their closing argument, prosecutors told the jury she had trouble stringing two sentences together.

Observes CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen: "There's no way you can predict, going into questioning, that a juror is going to snap her fingers at the jury, look at them and turn around and start on these monologs that the judge had to control. You can't plan for that."

Jurors didn't only hear her testimony that Jackson molested her son, they also learned she'd made previous accusations of sexual assault, Kauffman points out.

In 1998, the mother and her then-husband filed a lawsuit claiming security guards at a JC Penney store "followed them into the mall parking lot and proceeded to beat them," as court documents stated, and that a Tower Records security guard "joined the fracas and sexually assaulted" her.

Russell Halpern, an attorney who represented the accuser's father in the couple's on-going divorce, says of the mother, "She's very volatile, she's very manipulative, very controlling of her children."

What makes him say that, Kauffman wondered.

"There were several times in which the children, when they were away from the mother, they would tell one story. And then they would tell a different story when the mother was present," Halpern responded.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon was asked point blank if she cost him the case.

"We don't select our victims," was his reply.

But, notes Kauffman, the jurors seemed unanimous in their opinion of her.

"I think she made bad choices," said juror No. 6. "I don't think she inflicted good values in her children."

"This just wasn't the case where Michael Jackson is going to be found guilty of this, but that's not to say he's an innocent man," said Juror No. 1.

And so, Kauffman says, the allegations of a boy were undone by the testimony of his mother.
  • Joel Arak

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